7 Ways to Cope with Birthday Depression

Birthdays often look like having dinner with family and friends at your favorite restaurant or doing something special with your romantic partner. You’re supposed to celebrate you —a time of happiness, success, and fulfillment. So, why does that feel so far away from the truth? Instead, you find yourself locked in your room, shutting the world out, as you blast music with sad lyrics.

It sounds like a case of the birthday blues. It’s hard enough as it already is admitting that you’re not happy as another year already passes, but don’t beat yourself up over it. Psych2Go shares with you 7 ways to cope with birthday depression:

1. Lower your expectations.

Don’t expect magic and flying unicorns or anything super extravagant. Birthdays are meant to make you feel special, but instead of having high expectations for them, learn to find joy in the simplest of things. You’ll find that when you do this, it takes off some of the pressure you feel to be happy as it comes to you more naturally.

In general, I like to stay away from big celebrations, because it helps me monitor and keep my expectations low. I never exactly plan in advance what I want to do for my birthday and let events unfold naturally. This year, I only wish to celebrate with a few close loved ones. I think knowing that I got through another year is a huge relief in itself.

2. Keep yourself busy.

Don’t be passive on your birthday. This makes it easier for your negative thoughts to consume you. Instead, find ways to keep yourself productive. Doing activities, like shopping, going to the movies, or catching the sunset keeps you distracted from your sadness and helps you embrace the present more.

I find it therapeutic to go on drives and visiting my favorite spots. I like doing this, because it helps clear my mind. As a result, I feel refreshed and don’t lose sight on what birthdays personally mean to me, which is a reminder to myself that I was resilient enough to survive another year of challenges.

3. Focus on what you’ve accomplished, not what you haven’t.

Birthdays often act as milestones for all the expectations we have. People think that they have to be better than where they were a year ago. Perhaps you thought by the time reached your next birthday, you would’ve gotten your dream job, found yourself in a fulfilling relationship, or living in a nice home. But, don’t treat age like an expiration date. For happiness to exist, being flexible with reality is a must.

Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, remember all the positive memories you’ve lived and the things that you have achieved. People often think that once they have everything, then they’ll finally be happy. But, having everything doesn’t stop problems from existing or the bad days from happening. Life is an ongoing process, and we shouldn’t use our birthdays to paint the life episodes we yearn to live.

4. Don’t wait for someone else to make you happy.

You should never put your happiness in the hands of another. If you fall into the trap of believing you will be happy after you receive gifts from someone, then they will have just as much power to disappoint you if they give you a gift that doesn’t seem as desirable. Learn to rely and count on yourself to make your birthday a special one. Treat yourself! Buy that dress you’ve been eyeing in the store window or that mouth-watering entree you’ve been meaning to try. Your happiness should never be postponed.

5. Let your friends and family know how you feel.

Sometimes, the people who mean the world to you are terrible at remembering dates. Cut them some slack. It doesn’t hurt to remind them that your birthday is around the corner. If you’re also feeling sad, don’t hesitate to let them in on your feelings. This will provide for an honest day to talk things out.

Remember, the people who care about you want to be there for you. You shouldn’t ever feel like you have to put on a mask in front of them. The people who matter most won’t mind lifting your spirits up when you need it.

6. Know that it’s okay to mourn.

Sometimes, a quick release is what you’re looking for, and that’s okay. Letting out the sadness is a great way to purge yourself of emotional toxins. Know that having a case of the birthday blues doesn’t make you any less of a person, and it doesn’t make you any less capable of having a better day tomorrow.

7. Turn the sadness into a learning experience.

So, you’ve established that you feel lonely and unfulfilled on your birthday. Instead of just leaving it at that, perhaps you can learn from it. Reflect on what you think is driving that loneliness. That way, you can start to think of ways to take better care of yourself and have a less disastrous birthday the next time it comes back around.

How do you cope with birthday depression? Psych2Go would love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment down below!



Barn, J. (2017, March 24). How to Handle the Birthday Blues. Retrieved October 11, 2017.

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